Listening to: Birdy

Am I late to the Birdy party? Have any of you heard of her? I discovered her after hearing her on Being Human, and now I’m obsessed. I’ve listened to her rendition of Skinny Love about 100 times, and while it’s not better than Bon Iver’s original (is that possible?), it’s completely different and beauitiful. And the kicker is… she is 15!  FIFTEEN! To have that much soul in her voice at such a young age just blows me away.

See for yourself:




She’s pretty amazing, right?

You can listen to more of her on spotify here.

JessicaJanuary 23, 2013 - 5:48 pm

Wow- she is amazing! And 15- holy crap!

SaraJanuary 24, 2013 - 6:30 am

I love Birdy!
‘Terrible Love’ is also a great cover on that album!

MariaJanuary 24, 2013 - 7:26 am

I danced for 17 years, and this is one of my favorite songs to still dance to. We used to do warm ups, and we even had one routine to this song. By the end of the dance, I would be in tears. This song is so moving and beautiful.
xo, Maria

ReneeFebruary 2, 2013 - 3:26 am

Love this!! Thanks for introducing me to her and this song. Off to check out the original now.

Social Justice Inspiration – Buy The Change

Hello friends, happy Tuesday!

Many of you reading might not know this about me, but about two years ago I graduated with a Masters in International and Human Rights Education. Education is something I feel very strongly about, and I hoped that this degree would allow me to combine my passion for social justice issues and my love of travel with my belief in the power of education.

However, as it is with life sometimes, my current job has little to do with anything I studied in grad school, and sometimes I really miss it. I think that what I miss most about grad school was that I was constantly engaging in dialogue about issues that matter, and I was always learning about people and organizations that are working so hard to right wrongs and create a more socially just world. I often got to meet people that were doing really amazing work, work that was actually making a difference, and it was so inspiring.

So in an effort to bring a little more of that into my life (and hopefully yours!), I’d like to introduce a new series on this little blog of mine about the people and organizations that inspire me. I think it is easy to forget that we as individuals can actually make a difference, but we can, and many people actually are. Most importantly, I want to use this series as a way to highlight the many amazing organizations and individuals out there that have dedicated so much of their life and time to helping others, yet you might not even know they exist.

Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to Buy The Change USA.


A few months ago I wrote a post for the Half the Sky campaign I was involved in, and one of the comments I received was from Kari Hughes, one of the founders of Buy The Change USA. She sent me an email and said that after being inspired by Half the Sky, she and her friend opened a female centered fair-trade company to help women bulid businesses by bringing their handmade goods into the American market. As Kari told me, “We know the best way to keep a girl safe is to give her mother an income.”

I’m embarrassed that it has taken me this long to share this awesome organization with you all, because what Kari and Shanan have done is truly inspiring. Jewelry, scarves, bags, wallets, home accessories… they have it all. All of their products are fairly traded, and most of them are made with recycled materials. They currently sell these products online, but they also offer in-home trunk shows and fundraising shows in the Detroit Metro area. They also have plans for an advocate program that will allow them to offer home shows in other parts of the country.

The artisans they work with are incredible women that have “have survived sex trafficking, war, poverty and cultures that do not value the life of a girl as equal to that of a boy.” Their mission is “is to change the lives of women and girls in the developing world by inspiring you to change where you shop for gifts and accessories. You can make a difference.”

We can make a difference.

So please, take a few minutes of your day and go peruse their website. Get to know their artisans. Window shop their beautiful inventory. Spread the word by liking them on facebook.

Even better – buy something! Your purchase really can make a difference.


Do you have an organization or person that inspires you? If so, please email me or leave a comment and let me know!

Kari HughesJanuary 23, 2013 - 4:19 pm

Thanks for helping to spread the word about Buy The Change! We really appreciate your support!

Kari and Shanan
Co-founders Buy The Change

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

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Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

I am beyond thrilled and thankful to work for one of the companies that lets their employees have this day off. At past jobs I’ve always had to work, so this is an unexpected and lovely treat.

I hope that you too are able to enjoy some rest and relaxation today, and that you take a few minutes to honor and pay respect to MLK. If ever there was a man to inspire, he was it. We’ve made a lot of progress but we are still working to bring his dream of love and nonviolence to fruition.

As for me, I’m trudging along. I had a bit of a meltdown yesterday. I’m just so frustrated with this whole LASIK experience. My eyes were slowly getting better (keyword being slowly) but yesterday I woke up and both eyes hurt and burned considerably more than they had been and it felt like a major setback. It was a beautiful day and every single person I knew was getting ready to watch the 49ers game. My eyes were bugging out so I told Kevin to go along without me and that once my eyes felt better I would come meet up. I took a shower, and I don’t know what happened, but when I came out both eyes were burning severely. Despite being extremely paranoid when I take a shower (it takes me about 20 minutes because I’m so scared of getting anything in or near my eyes…I pretty much sponge bath myself), I must have gotten something in them, probably water (yes – just water – you are not supposed to get them wet!), and they started burning and swelling and I just came out of the shower and had a “woe is me” pity party and started to cry.

I wasn’t crying because of the pain (though I was in pain), I was just so frustrated with this whole experience. I’m run down. I’ve been in some level of pain or discomfort for 11 days straight. I wake up in the middle of the night every night because my eyes are burning and I need to put in eye drops. The only time I’ve been remotely comfortable is when I’m either 1) drinking, or 2) laying in a dark room with my eyes closed. And I’m just tired of it.

What makes me even more mad is that I still don’t know exactly what is wrong with me or what happened. All I’ve been told is that I fell in the 1-2% of people that unfortunately have complications from the surgery and get corneal abrasions from the procedure, and that “everyone heals differently.” They haven’t told me why it happened or how long I’ll feel this way. They don’t seem to care. My friend Carolyn used to work in ophthalmology and she said it sounds like a combo of corneal abrasions and severe dry eye, and while google seems to have confirmed her thoughts, I really don’t know. All I do know is that it’s been 11 days and I’m still in pain.

Also – no surprise here, but never google! All it really does is help confirm your worst fears and further freak you out. Reading testimonial after testimonial from people describing their severe eye issues resulting from LASIK doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

I do believe that my eyes will get better. I just don’t know when. And I can’t help but wonder if this would have happened if I went with another surgeon? Maybe. Maybe not. The LASIK surgeon said I’d feel pain or discomfort for “at the very most” 48 hours and then after that it would be like “a miracle.” I’m sure that is the case for most people (it was for the three other people I know that went to him), but it hasn’t been for me, and I wish I had been more prepared for the possible complications that can occur.

But. Such is life. I just have to wait and hope and trust that they will eventually heal. It seems like it’s been forever, but it’s only been 11 days. Google told me that epithelial cells can take three to six weeks to reproduce and heal, so I just have to give it time.

Sorry for the vent, and thanks for reading.

My eyes might hurt, but life is still good.

nicole marieJanuary 21, 2013 - 11:00 am

oh i am so sorry friend. honestly i think one of the hardest part of not being healthy is feeling so helpless… it’s so frusterating to want to be healthy and feeling great espeically when there are so many fun activities going on! on the brightside at least the niners won so you get to be at the bars or somewhere fun for the superbowl!!
hope you wake up tomorrow completely healed and pain free

nancy @ adore to adornJanuary 21, 2013 - 2:33 pm

gosh I can feel your pain through your writing. I’m so sympathetic to your frustration and pain. I can only imagine how this must feel. But, I do understand it since I’m such a blind person without my glasses/contacts and I think about how I hear others who say LASIK changed their lives.
Hope this is all completely over soon!!

ashleyJanuary 21, 2013 - 5:27 pm

I’m so sorry you are feeling such pain! my gf in LA just has LASIK and the medicine to numb your eyes didn’t kick in until 15minute after her surgery– so basically she felt every single thing during surgery. I told her about your experience (like I know you first hand, ha!) and she suggested that you go get another opinion? I hope your eyes start feeling better. and yes.. never ever ever google what it could be!

KaylaJanuary 22, 2013 - 6:20 am

Oh no! So sorry to hear that! I hope you are feeling better today! Ouch! Yes, no googling, that is dangerous! Sending lots of hugs your way!

A Brief Rest

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Hi friends! Happy Thursday!

This is just a quick note to say that I’m going to take a mini-blogging break for the next few days. Regular posting shall resume on Monday (I hope!), but for now, I’m going to try my best to give my eyes the rest they need so that they can heal as fast as possible.

I went back to work yesterday for the first time since before LASIK, and that was as fun and exciting as one would expect after being gone for almost a week. I had an eye doctor appointment yesterday morning and my eyes are healing, just slower than one would expect, to which I received a nice “everyone heals differently” response. Lucky me!

I’m able to see fine (again, the most important thing), but my eyes still hurt, and after spending a full day on the computer at work I’ve found that my eyes become severely strained. Which means I’m still spending an inordinate amount of time with my eyes closed listening to audiobooks.

I’m new to this whole audiobook world. Prior to LASIK I’d never actually listened to an audio book, and I’ve been thinking… how the eff do they decide who narrates these things? How does one get this job? Because let me tell you, I’ve had some pretty crap narrators, and I actually think that I would be significantly better at this than some of these readers.

Thinking that perhaps this experience has led to embark on a new career path, I googled “how to become an audiobook reader” and apparently it’s serious business! According to the APA (audio publishers association), “audiobook publishers look for professional narrators or actors and actresses that have voice and dramatic training, are able to use dialects and accents, can respond to direction, have the stamina that being in a closed studio for many hours requires, and ultimately deliver the feeling behind the author’s intent of the book or project.” Usually these people are chosen through a talent agency, and the APA goes on to state that this is a very competitive industry, and that acting experience is essential. There is even a huge award ceremony called “The Audies”!

Well, I don’t know what agency has been casting the books I’ve been reading, but they need to be reevaluated in my opinion.

Anyway, that’s what’s been going on in my neck of the woods (couldn’t help myself… the Today Show is on in the background).

What about you?

nancy @ adore to adornJanuary 17, 2013 - 11:00 am

Glad to hear you’re doing better! What an ordeal. But, yes, you’re right…the most important thing is that you can SEE! But still…sheesh!
It’s funny to read your comments on audiobooks and I too had NO idea it was such a business! I have not listened to any because, like you, I don’t know if I would respond well to listening to the book being read to me since I’d likely be distracted by the thought of “who is reading this?” haha. But one of my co-workers, who has a long commute, swears by her audiobooks so she can be attentive while driving and not hear “crappy” music on the radio.

DJ @werejustdandyJanuary 18, 2013 - 6:04 am

I listen to a lot of audiobooks now that I have a commute and I have the same kinds of questions. Mostly I wonder about about the process – how long does it take? How many takes do they have to do?

Is it amazing not to have to put on contacts in the morning?! It sucks that your eyes hurt… when my eyes hurt I am the BIGGEST baby. But it sounds like it will all be worth it!!

SerenaJanuary 18, 2013 - 9:53 am

@DJ – I wonder how many takes they take as well, especially when you can tell something happened mid chapter and the tone totally changes. Do these people consider themselves actors? How much does one make? I’m super curious.

As for my eyes, it’s been super crappy, but last night was the first time I’ve had any sort of “this is worth it” moment… I was laying in bed (listening to my audiobook!) and as I started to get tired I thought to myself “ugh, I have to get up and take out my contacts,” and then I realized… no! I don’t!!

SerenaJanuary 18, 2013 - 9:57 am

@nancy – it definitely takes some getting used to, these audiobooks. I’m no convert, but it is nice to be able to essentially “read” while doing things you wouldn’t normally be able to read during… cleaning the house, on the bus since I get carsick if I try to read, or walking to work. But when the narrators suck, it’s really hard to get into it.

The Grown Up PrincessJanuary 23, 2013 - 7:19 pm

I heard a commercial for lasik on the radio this morning as I was driving to work and I thought of you. How are your eyes doing??? I have a friend who lost vision in one eye during hers and that was it – I am too permanently petrified to try it (even though I realize that is like 1 in a million).

Hoping your eyes are feeling better!

Happy Friday! | SpillerenaMarch 29, 2013 - 11:30 am

[...] the audio book version of The Handmaid’s Tale (I had an audible credit from all the books I listened to while recovering from LASIK), and holy moly, it was such a great book! I’m absolutely shocked [...]

Around These Parts…

It’s been an interesting five days in our household. As I mentioned last week, I was scheduled to have LASIK surgery on Thursday, and if you follow me on instagram or twitter, you probably know that I’ve had a pretty tough recovery. Apparently I fall in the very small percentage of people (less than 2%) that have complications from the surgery, and while my eyesight itself is and will continue to be fine, which is hands down the most important thing, it has made for a super painful recovery period. For the first two days following the procedure, it felt like my eyes were on fire. I could hardly open them, and when I did they would start to water and gush like crazy. Eye pain is no joke. When you can’t open your eyes and all you want to do is scratch your eyeballs out, it’s really really hard to focus on anything else.

Basically, it seems that I got some pretty bad epithelial defects, otherwise known as corneal abrasions, or in layman’s terms… eye scratches. Lots and lots of eye scratches. My eyes got all scratched during part of the procedure so I have scar tissue that needs to heal, and because of that, I’ve been in a lot of pain. Typical LASIK recovery is 24-48 hours. Well, I’m on day five and I’m just now able to keep my eyes open for prolonged periods of time and the puffiness and swelling is finally starting to fade. It no longer feels like I have sand rubbing around my eyes, and blinking no longer makes me feel like gouging my eyes out.

For those that are considering LASIK I want to make it clear that this is very very uncommon, I just happened to fall in that teeny tiny crappy percentage of people that have issues. In the past six months I have had three friends that had LASIK, all by the same surgeon I went to, and they had absolutely no complications. Two of them said they could have gone back to work the next day.

To make things even more interesting, last Wednesday my husband woke up super dizzy. Two days later he was still feeling this way, so he went to a doctor, and was diagnosed with “benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.” It’s not that serious, and usually goes away on its own, but it’s still vertigo and it still sucks. So between his vertigo and my eye problems, well, it’s been quite the party up in this household!

Once I’m fully recovered, I plan on writing more about my experience, because I think that had I known what to expect regarding complications, I wouldn’t have been so freaked out when they happened to me. Everyone I knew that had LASIK had raved about their experiences, telling me that they went out to dinner the day of the procedure…that they had no pain, no issues… and that it truly felt like a miracle. Well, when the opposite of that happens to you, it makes you think that you are totally f***ed and something is seriously wrong. Had I known that what was happening to me was somewhat common, I think I would have been a lot less terrified that I hadn’t just screwed up my eyesight for life, and that the pain I was feeling would eventually pass.

For those that don’t follow me on instagram, here’s a short photo recap:

For the first two days I could barely open my eyes, so I basically just laid in a dark room listening to audio books. It was very boring and very painful and very frustrating.

Kevin quickly realized that my pain would not be as bad if he liquored me up, so we got a little drunk on Friday night. I was still in pain, but the combination of wine and Valium made me much happier.

On Saturday I woke up basically the same, so I had to miss one of my best friend’s birthday parties. I had been looking forward to her party for a long time so I was very sad. Kevin and I decided to have our own party and celebrate in spirit. We took a reprieve from healthy eating and ate chocolate and cheese and pizza and drank wine and baileys and beer and tried to make the best of it.

By Saturday night, I was going stir crazy. My first shipment from PVBody had arrived, and even though it hurt to open my eyes, I wanted to try my new clothes on. They were WAY TOO TIGHT which for some reason made me laugh like a maniac, and the combo of wine, pain killers, and cabin fever made me add a belt and act like Olivia Newton John circa 1980 and have a weird dance party alone in my living room.

Kevin’s first reaction to this outfit was “that top makes your boobs look very flat.” Thanks husband, you sure do know how to make a girl feel special!

Side note: Despite suffering from vertigo, Kevin has been AMAZING these past few days, waiting on me hand and foot and just being the best person you could ever want around you when you are blind and in pain. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m very very lucky that he is mine. I love him so much sometimes I think my heart could burst.

Yesterday I woke up feeling significantly better, and my left eye almost felt normal. My right eye was still really puffy and in pain, so I covered it up and tried to watch TV. I was able to watch most of the Golden Globes and after resting my eyes for a bit, I finished up the night with the Girls premier. Progress!


That leads me to today. As I type this I’m still wearing my protective goggles because my eyes are still super sensitive to air and light, but they are healing. The mere act of putting this blog entry together has started to strain them, but hey, two days ago I couldn’t even look at a computer screen, so this is progress! Slowly but surely they are healing. I’ve yet to have that “oh my god this is amazing” feeling, but even with all the pain and complications, I don’t regret doing it.

How was your weekend? I hope it was easier than mine!


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JayJanuary 14, 2013 - 1:28 pm

I feel for you! I once had an eye injury and woke up to the eyes on fire want to scratch them out sensation — after antibiotics and rest it was over but those couple of days were horrible!

Glad to hear you are on the mend!

MariaJanuary 14, 2013 - 1:50 pm

Oh my goodness gracious, I hope you’re feeling better soon :(
xo, Maria

Nicole MarieJanuary 14, 2013 - 1:52 pm

oh you poor girl!! i mean you still look great considering you couldn’t open your eyes! i would have killed someone if i had been that bed bound. but i’m glad you’re healing!

Patty McClainJanuary 14, 2013 - 2:06 pm

Relieved to hear of the gradual improvement. Hang in there. (Also pleased to know of Kevin’s attentiveness.)

MaureenJanuary 14, 2013 - 2:25 pm

That sounds pretty miserable! I like your coping mechanism though – sounds like the perfect way to power through the pain!

MarcieJanuary 14, 2013 - 3:32 pm

Oh my sweet sissy…I’m so sorry you’re not completely well yet. I will call you when I get off work at 5:30.

ritaJanuary 15, 2013 - 8:07 am

ah! i’m so sorry to hear about the pain and misery! i am petrified of lasik even though i know i would benefit from it… i am sure it will be worth it when everything is healed!

MerrittJanuary 18, 2013 - 7:21 am

This post is my worst fear realized – I’ve been wanting Lasik forever and now I’m terrified! haha.

I hope you are feeling better – eye pain really is the worst!!

The Style Scribe

Kayla @ Sealed With a KayJanuary 21, 2013 - 12:09 pm

Wow! You’re a trooper! Anything having to do with eyes not working correctly is painful! Hopefully you’re feeling better now with awesome vision! WOOHOO!

[…] Piccoult Audio Books – Okay… so remember when I had LASIK last year and had all sorts of compilations and couldn’t open my eyes for extended periods of time? It […]